Papa John's founder John Schnatter this week claimed he has lost $70 million, at least partially due to the NFL controversy that centers on players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest racial injustice and inequality. “This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago," Schnatter said. “The [NFL] controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country.”
That claim is more bogus than the tomato sauce Schnatter uses on his pies.
Since the season began, NFL owners such as the Dallas Cowboys' Jerry Jones have claimed some sponsors don't like the controversy the protests have generated. But not a single advertiser went on record until Schnatter opened his big mouth.
The timing of Schnatter's comments are highly suspect. Consider that he and Jones are a couple of good old buddies doing business together. In 2004, Papa John's became the official pizza of the Cowboys, and Jones acquired a 49 percent stake in 71 stores. Since then, Jones has upped his holdings to more than 100 locations.
During a radio interview today, Jones had nothing but praise for the pizza man. "John Schnatter is one of the great Americans," Jones said. "He started off in his dad’s bar just doing a pizza with a little oven or microwave, and he’s built that thing into one of the greatest businesses."
Those comments came just a few days after Papa John's announced disastrous earnings and its stock price dropped 11 percent. It's obvious Jones and Schnatter were just trying to cook up an excuse for the company's lagging sales. If you sell good, delicious pizza, people will buy it. If your pizza stinks, don't blame players taking a damn knee.
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Jones and Schnatter are just as bad as Donald Trump. Instead of confronting the problem constructively, they want to shut down free speech.
The reality is that no other NFL sponsor will publicly condemn the protesters. They don't want to risk an African-American boycott. If Schnatter really wants the NFL to do something about the controversy, he should advise Jones to speak up for innocent black men killed by bad cops.
When a powerful man like Jones uses his influence to change laws that allow unfit police officers to get away with murder, the protests will stop.
Follow Luke on Twitter: @unclelukereal1.